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Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Infamous Bell, California Public Corruption Case

     The Los Angeles Times, in July 2010, exposed public corruption in Bell, one of the poorer suburban communities in Los Angeles County. Investigative journalists revealed that the city manager, his assistant, members of the city council, and the chief of police of this town of 40,000, were being paid salaries that were, even by California standards, outrageously high.

     Robert Rizzo, the city manager, made $800,000 a year as part of a combined annual salary and compensation package of $1.5 million. Rizzo lived in a mansion, and was wealthy enough to raise thoroughbred racing  horses. His assistant, Angela Spaccia, pulled in $375,000 a year. Six of the part-time city council members each made $100,000 a year for essentially doing nothing. The clueless taxpayers of Bell, California were being taken on a ride.

     In March 2011, following criminal investigations by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, and investigators with the state, Rizzo and seven other Bell city officers were indicted on various charges of public corruption. Rizzo faced 50 counts of misappropriating public funds, conflict of interest, falsifying documents, and giving himself and Spaccia raises without council approval. The eight defendants were accused of stealing just under $6 million from the taxpayers of this small, debt-ridden town.

     Randy Adams, the 59-year-old hired by Rizzo as Bell's chief of police in August 2009, was not among those indicted for public corruption. (There are many people not happy about that.) Adams, who had been the chief of police of the Glendale, California Police Department, was given a sweet deal by city manager Robert Rizzo. Besides his whopping salary of $457,000 a year, Adams was immediately declared physically disabled, notwithstanding his impressive time at a 5 K race he had run just a month before starting the job. In the Golden State, being declared officially disabled (in Adam's case a bad back and knees) meant that Adams could retire whenever he wanted, and receive a pension equal to one-half of his salary--for life. (City manager Rizzo and his assistant were charged with falsifying public records to show that the chief was only being paid $200,000 a year.)

     Although patrol officers in California routinely made over $100,00 a year, being paid $457,000 a year to run a police department with 40 employees was excessive, even in California. For example, Charles Beck, the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, an agency that employed 13,000, made $307,000 a year.

     After the Los Angeles Times broke the story of the corruption in Bell, the taxpayers revolted and threw the bums out of office.  Randy Adams left the police department in August 2010. After working a year as its chief, he was entitled, pursuant to his employment contract, a pension of $22,000 a month.

     In August 2012, Randy Adams, instead of quietly enjoying the good life at the expense of Bell's struggling taxpayers, sued the city for the one-year severance pay he said he was owed by the municipality. (A year earlier, the angry ex-chief had sued the city for not reimbursing him for the legal costs he had incurred defending himself against the public corruption scandal.)

     In Bell, California, and who knows how many other places in the Golden State, crime didn't pay nearly as well as crime fighting. That was if you could tell the difference between the two.

     On October 23, 2012, a judge ruled against Randy Adams in his suit to recover severance pay and legal expenses.

     In January 2013, former city manager Robert Rizzo, his assistant Angela Spaccia, and four members of the city council were convicted of public corruption. The former city council members were each given the light sentences of five years of probation. The judge sentenced Rizzo and Spaccia to 12-year prison terms.

1 comment:

  1. Adams, who had been the chief of police of the Glendale, California Police Department, was given a sweet deal by city manager Robert Rizzo. Besides his whopping salary of $457,000 a year, Adams was immediately declared physically disabled, notwithstanding his impressive time at a 5 K race he had run just a month before starting the job.www.limos-la.com

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